Why I Don't Get SEO - A Response
A colleague of mine passed me a link to a boagworld blog entitled “Why I Don’t Get SEO”. The bottom line is the author (one Paul Boag) does not understand why people invest in SEO, listing five reasons that are the source of his doubts.
This is a reply to each of these five items, hopefully convincing him that he is wrong in his opinion, and perhaps changing a few other like-minded people as well.
A continual investment with no guarantees
Yes, SEO is a continual investment, as Paul says, “It is not just [...] getting to be number one for your chosen keywords, its about staying there too”.
And yes, there are no guarantees. NOBODY can guarantee a number 1 position on Google for a short-tail (one or two word) keyword. Everyone and their dog will be trying to target these keywords as these type of keywords are searched for the most,. As such, the top results will change on an almost constant basis for this kind of keyword. Targeting long-tail (3 or more word) keywords means less competition for the top spot, and your results for those keywords go up. You MAY even get to the number one spot, but that does not help if nobody is searching for those long-tail keywords.
The best a good SEO company will be able to offer is an increase in rankings. This is the difference between a listing on page 6 (or no listing at all) and a listing on page one or two. This sort of result will not happen overnight, but after a few months of work you should start to see a return on investment (ROI) as the rankings start to go up. At first it will be only a drizzle as you move up a handful of results, but as you start moving up in pages the return on investment will increase, until, eventually, the return is greater than the investment.
You're manipulating the system
“[T]he algorithm is unknown to anybody other than Google and it changes all of the time”
This is true, but Google has given a list of webmaster guidelines that every site should be doing, and a good SEO company will implement these guidelines on their client’s websites. Yes we’re using the system; but not by circumventing the algorithm, but by co-operating with it. Techniques used to trick or otherwise get around the algorithm (also called black hat techniques) will get discovered and the algorithm changed to reduce the authority of the site, and in some cases, remove it from the results pages altogether. By co-operating with the system the site gains authority in the way intended by Google and the chances of being penalised is greatly reduced.
“[W]ork with Google's known goal - to provide great content to its users”
A popular quote at the moment is ‘Content is King’. It refers to content that is regularly updated. The concept is fairly simple: if a person visits a site and the content has not changed, they will get bored and not visit again. Search engines are now smart enough that the same applies to them as well – if the site hasn’t changed, they won’t visit regularly.
The easiest way to supply regular content is by integrating a blog. Talking about the company, about products, special offers and any competitions that are running not only increases the content but also their brand awareness. By supplying fresh content (in this example, two or three blogs a week) users and search engines will both return to the website more often.
It can damage the user experience
“SEO often leads to an excessive amount of copy [...] and keyword heavy navigation”
Good SEO companies know that search engines don’t like spammy content, that is content that includes nothing of value to the user, just keywords. There is an art to SEO copywriting. A fine balancing act between supplying information for the user and including a certain number of occurrences of targeted keywords so that search engines consider the site to be relative to those keywords. A good SEO company will not only have professional copy pertinent to the client and their industry put onto the client’s site, but will also do it in such a way that it is integrated into the theme of the clients site, in that it is not just plonked onto the bottom of the page out of the way, but incorporated into the body of the website where it becomes a part of the user experience. And if it is part of the user experience, then the last thing that is needed is spammy content that will put the user off visiting the site again.
It is a passive form of marketing
Erm… yes. There is no counter-augment to this.
It carries no weight
“[SEO] lacks the weight of personal recommendation”.
With the recent boom of social networking sites, social marketing has exploded, and good SEO companies will offer social networking integration as part of their package, such as posting links to recent blog posts or new product announcements. This cannot be just the SEO company’s responsibility; the client needs to spend an equal (if not greater) amount of time interacting with people, usually by commenting on what other people have said with relevant information.
“My recommendation to clients is that we build their websites to be accessible to search engines but tailored towards users not search engines.”
Absolutely. There’s no money to be gained by search engines (they don’t buy your products), so tailoring to them is rather pointless. By following Google’s webmaster guidelines and Yahoo’s best practices to speed up your website you can create both a search engine friendly website and a very good user experience, an extremely good thing in the eyes of most search engines with the result being an increase in rankings.
We welcome counter-counter arguments.
This blog was written over 6 months ago and Internet Marketing and SEO is an always changing industry which means the information within this blog may be out of date. Use caution when using any methods or suggestions within it.